Summary: When David allows a vacuum to grow in the nation’s leadership, Joab is forced to build a siege ramp to deal with the problem
Joab is not a good guy. We find him in the midst of a great deal of political intrigue in the midst of David’s Court. He literally MURDERS the man that David had replaced him in office with. David is not longer running from the confrontation such as that of Absalom, but is beginning to deal with matters in a more head on manner. But there is a lesson that can be learned from his actions in pursuing Sheba, who was in rebellion against David as King.
In II Samuel 20 we find that Joab and the army (in an effort to win himself a place in David’s court most likely. Amasa, who David named to replace Joab (because of Joab’s disobedience when he killed Absalom) tarried too long in chasing down Sheba, who argued that David should no longer be King.
First, Let’s look at things from Sheba’s point of view. The nation was divided over the issue of whether or not David should be returned to the throne. The people of Judah sent for David to resolve the issue. Sheba declared that the Northern part of the nation (Israel) should not follow David. Whether or not he planned to establish himself as king or some other is not certain, but he was in rebellion. Why?
INJUSTICE IN THE LAND
Well, Absalom had sown quite a few seeds of discontent. During his period of meeting people at the palace gate he had pointed out every flaw in David’s reign and strongly implied that there was no justice to be found in David’s kingdom. This was not an unfounded accusation.
David’s reign saw far too little justice. We know that David did a great job of defending the nation against external foes, such as the Philistines, but when it came to confrontation with his own people he just didn’t want to deal well with it. David had committed adultery and murder, and escaped the penalties of the law. Amnon had raped Tamar, and while we see that David was furious over it, nothing appeared to happen. Absalom murdered Amnon later in vengeance, and once again David did nothing more than banish Absalom from his presence. Absalom took the throne from David and rather than fight, he ran. Joab murdered Absalom and David’s drastic action is to reassign Joab, basically a do-nothing approach. When David returns to Jerusalem, he finds Mephibosheth, who obviously (because he had not bathed, shaved, nor even changed clothes) had mourned the missing king (or perhaps been in hiding) David does not want to deal with justly settling the issue between Ziba (Mephibosheth’s servant who claimed Mephibosheth had sided with Absalom) and Mephibosheth, but says abruptly, "just divide the lands between the two men." Mephibosheth’s answer makes it clear that he was not interested in the lands, but rather the rebuilding of the relationship. It had to be clear to King David who was lying in that situation, but he did nothing to bring about justice.
David’s misbehavior and "do-nothing" attitude led to a vacuum that made it questionable whether he had a right to return to the throne. Sheba was leading the Israelites to a vote of "no-confidence," and David knew it before he came to Jerusalem. Did he try to resolve the issues? We have no indication that he did so.